Sunday, October 28, 2012

Song Of The Week: 10/28/12

Song: "Ordinary Girl"

Artist: Chris Cornell

Album: "Scream"

Year: 2009

"Ordinary Girl" appears to be a song about a woman who's beauty is so mesmerizing that you fall totally in love with her. The problem is that she uses that against you. She uses her beauty to draw you in, then she takes you for everything you have. She not only wants to take you for your money, she also wants to take you for your soul. Basically, the vocalist is saying that looks can be deceiving. What's beautiful on the outside is cold and evil on the inside. Chris Cornell is one of the greatest rock and roll vocalists of all time. He has one of the strongest vocal ranges of any lead singer in rock history. His story starts in Seattle, Washington back in 1984 when he helped form one of the most influential hard rock bands to ever come out, Soundgarden. In the mid to late 80's, Soundgarden was very much in the underground of a music scene that was about to explode. Soon bands like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains began creating a buzz. Along the way, there was also the band Nirvana which was set to change the way people looked at hard rock music. Cornell's roommate and best friend, Andrew Wood, lead singer of the band Mother Love Bone, would fall victim to the abuses of heroin. This left a huge void in the whole Seattle music scene and personally affected Cornell in a big way. Now it's 1991. Cornell has put some song tribute songs together for his fallen friend Andy Wood. He enlists the help of former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament as well as a San Diego surfer, Eddie Vedder and a shredder on guitar Mike McCready. A couple of songs turn into a whole album, "Temple Of The Dog". The Seattle grunge explosion is on the verge of happening. Vedder, Gossard, Ament and McCready form Pearl Jam and release "Ten". Nirvana rocks the world with the release of "Nevermind". Alice In Chains strike gold with "Dirt" and Soundgarden drops "Badmotorfinger". The music world has turned upside down and "hair" metal is dead!! Cornell and Soundgarden would go on to drop landmark albums in the 90's. Along with 1991's "Badmotorfinger" came 1994's classic "Superunknown" and 1996's "Down On The Upside". After 13 years as a band, however, tensions began to arise and a break-up was inevitable. In 1997, Soundgarden officially split up. In 1999, Cornell released his first solo album, "Euphoria Morning". This album began to show Cornell's range as an artist. It was definitely a softer side compared to the aggression that was Soundgarden but it really highlighted Cornell's songwriting abilities and showed he could still shine on different kinds of music. The solo career would prove to be short-lived however, as the remaining members of Rage Against The Machine would come calling Cornell after the departure of their lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha. The supergroup would officially get together in 2001 and take the name Audioslave. Audioslave saw huge success as a band. The meshing of one of the greatest vocalists of all time, Cornell, and one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Tom Morello, proved to be a smash. Audioslave sat atop the rock world from 2001 till 2007. During that time they dropped three successful albums, "Audioslave", "Out Of Exile" and "Revelations". Once again, however, tensions arose in the band setting that would ultimately cause Cornell to leave the band. In 2007, Cornell began to focus on his solo career once again. He contributed the theme song to the James Bond film "Casino Royale" titled "You Know My Name". He also dropped a new solo album called "Carry On". In 2009, Cornell wanted to expand in an even further direction musically when he hooked up with R&B producer Timbaland and created the album "Scream". Though "Scream" was Cornell's highest charting solo album, #10 on the Billboard 200 charts, it was also mostly panned by music critics. The R&B feel to the album just didn't click with longtime fans and critics who felt Cornell should stick with what he does best, heavy rock. There were rumors that Cornell was going to rework the entire album as a rock album, but he would only do two alternate "rock" versions for the songs, "Never Far Away" and "Long Gone". In 2011, Cornell released an acoustic live album entitled "Songbook". It's a real treat to hear the power of Cornell's voice in an acoustic setting. Before the release of "Songbook", Soundgarden fans rejoiced with the news that the band was getting back together. After headlining a few festivals such as Lollapalooza, it was announced that the band had been working on new material and a new album, titled "King Animal", would be released in November of 2012. Currently, Cornell's focus is on the beast that is Soundgarden. Fans couldn't be happier because, really, this is where he belongs, fronting one of the heaviest and most influential bands of all time!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Song Of The Week: 10/21/12

Song: "Blue Times Two"

Artist: Avail

Album: "Front Porch Stories"

Year: 2002

"Blue Times Two" appears to be a song about biting your tongue during an argument. Sometimes it's better not to say anything and accept that mistakes were made by both people and move on. You get a sense that this relationship is most likely on the outs however. Arguments are making it worse and talking about their problems seems to be getting them nowhere. The vocalist clearly hates himself for the way things turned out, but I believe he sees the writing on the wall, that the relationship is moving towards an end. Avail was a hardcore/punk band that formed back in 1987. They are from Richmond, Virginia. Vocalist Tim Barry actually started out as the band's drummer on their early demos. By the time the band self-released their first album, 1992's "Satiate", Barry was the lead singer. The band was signed to Lookout! Records who would re-release "Satiate" as well as the band's next three albums, 1994's "Dixie", 1996's "4am Friday", and 1998's "Over The James". These three albums would also receive the re-release treatment when the band signed with Jade Tree Records later on in their career. In 2000, Avail joined prominent punk label Fat Wreck Chords and released "One Wrench". Fat Wreck would also release what would be Avail's final studio album, "Front Porch Stories" in 2002. After almost twenty-one years of toiling in the underground of the hardcore punk scene, Avail decided to call it quits and focus on new projects. Tim Barry has said in interviews that the band is on "permanent standby" and that basically Avail is a thing of the past. All in all it was a long run for the band however. Along with their six full length studio albums, Avail also released two demos, four EP's and three live albums. Their legacy in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia still remains strong as well. It's quite common to see the band's "Dixie" logo in graffiti or on sidewalk impressions as well as on tattoos all over the Richmond area. Currently, most members of Avail are focusing on new projects. Some members went on to form the bands The Ghost Run and Freeman. The most notable side project however, proved to be Tim Barry's solo career. Like many punk rock frontmen, Barry caught the wave of folk/punk, turning down the distortion and picking up an acoustic to focus more on his songwriting capabilities. As for Avail, it appears safe to close the book on that band for now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Song Of The Week: 10/14/12

Song: "Millstone"

Artist: Brand New

Album: "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me"

Year: 2006

"Millstone" is a song that appears to be about looking back on your life and having some regrets about the way things have turned out. It could be as simple as losing your faith or perhaps not just a religious angle. It could just be about losing who you are as a person. This person, the vocalist, places no blame on anyone but himself for the way things turned out in his life. He wears the burden around his neck and he is remorseful for the mistakes he's made. Whatever he's walked away from, whether it's family, friends, relationships or even God, he owns up to it, regrettably. Brand New, from Long Island, New York, formed as a band back in 2000. Their first album, 2001's "Your Favorite Weapon" saw the band use sort of a pop punk style and was mildly successful. When it was time to record their second album, 2003's "Deja Entendu", Brand New changed up their style a bit and the maturity of the music and songwriting really shined through especially on the hit singles "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" and "Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades". This album would go on to be certified Gold. In 2006, Brand New signed with Interscope Records and released "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me". This album saw the band descend into some darker material. Vocalist/guitarist Jesse Lacey was really exploring his inner demons on this record almost to the point of leading him to depression. The first single "Sowing Season" was dark and emotional while the second single "Jesus" would go on to be the highest charting single in the U.S. for the band. In 2008, Brand New formed their own record label called Procrastinate! Music Traitors. In 2009, they released their fourth studio effort, "Daisy". This album proved to be the highest charting of all the Brand New albums, peaking at #6 on the Billboard 200 charts. Despite the success of "Daisy", Lacey felt that a lot of the songs on the album focused on the possible end of the band. He began to wonder if the band had said everything that it wanted to say and if it was time to move on. Thankfully, he would later squash that notion, however he did say he was unsure if Brand New would release a new full album in the future. Due to the way music is received today with all the new technology in place, he pondered if Brand New would just release songs digitally, perhaps a song a month or a batch of songs all at once instead of a whole album. All these things would possibly affect the way that the band would release material in the future. By 2012, it was said that Brand New had indeed secured some studio time and were, in fact beginning the process of working on a new album. Brand New has turned out to not only be quite a successful band, but also a very influential band. Lacey is credited with being a well respected songwriter, his songs containing extremely personal and emotional meanings. Since the band's existence, they have either opened, headlined or co-headlines some of the biggest music festivals around the globe, Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Bamboozle and Big Day Out just to name a few. They have also shared the stage with the likes of Thrice, Senses Fail, My Chemical Romance, Alkaline Trio, Bouncing Souls, Flogging Molly, Taking Back Sunday and Finch. Currenty, as I said earlier, the band had been in the recording studio as late as April of 2012, reportedly working on new material for what would be their fifth studio album.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Song Of The Week: 10/7/12

Song: "Final Transmission"

Artist: Street Dogs

Album: "Fading American Dream"

Year: 2006

"Final Transmission" is a song about a young man who joined the military to get a college fund. His dreams were to become a school teacher but, ultimately, after only six months of battle, he caught an IED a died, a casualty of war. The "final transmission" was a note he wrote to his family which he tucked in his helmet. They only way he intended for his family to read it, tragically, was if he did not make it. The song is an anti-war song that begs the government to bring the troops back home and end this war (the Iraq War). Street Dogs are a band that formed back in 2002. They quickly became a staple in Boston, Massachusetts along with fellow Celtic punk band, Dropkick Murphys. In fact, Street Dogs frontman, Mike McColgan was the original lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys, however in 1998, he decided to quit that band to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a Boston firefighter. In 2002, McColgan decided that he could not stay away from music and he formed the Street Dogs. In 2003, the Street Dogs dropped their first album, "Savin Hill" which established their place in the Boston punk scene early on. The album also featured guest appearances by Dropkick Murphys members Al Barr and Ken Casey. In 2005, "Back To The World" was released. This album led to opening slots on tours supporting the likes of Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Millencolin and Bouncing Souls. The Street Dogs would also embark on their very first headlining tours at this time. 2006 saw the release of "Fading American Dream". By 2008, the Street Dogs would sign with Hellcat Records and release their fourth album, "State Of Grace". That year they would also join the Vans Warped Tour as a main stage act. In 2010, the band released their fifth studio album, "Street Dogs". 2011 saw the band as a headliner at the Warped Tour once again. For ten years the Street Dogs have established themselves as a punk band for the common man, or the working man if you will. They are pro-middle class, pro-union and definitely wear their hometown on their sleeve, representing Boston and especially their childhood neighborhood in Dorchester, MA. They come from a blue-collar backround and they play a blue-collar brand of punk rock. Currently, bassist Johnny Rioux has stated that the band plans to help Mike McColgan release a solo album as well as possibly put together a Street Dogs b-sides compilation. They are in the process of mixing a live DVD as well. He also said that he is excited about the Street Dogs making their very first trip to Australia to play some shows and hopes that the band joins up in some Celtic festivals after that as well. No new news about a new album being in the works is out there as of yet however.